Your traffic and activity on Google.com has been great for years. Everything looks great, business is trending up and then your traffic crashes, and doesn’t just crash a little, but crashes a lot. Could the image to the right be your website’s history?
If it is the first place to look is your Google Webmaster Control Panel to see if Google has done a manual penalty for link schemes. If you do see the ill-fated message that your site is and has been penalized can you ever fully recover? This article at the MOZ blog states that typically you cannot fully recover the traffic you had before. Giving several examples, the writer visually shows that in some cases a modest return to traffic can be achieved but not usually back to the previous traffic levels.
For some website owners, this is a pretty hard fact to acknowledge; that what their SEO firm or what they have unknowingly have done has impacted their business with no real chance for full recovery. Although each case is unique and the reasons for a Google Smackdown may be different, full recovery may simply not be an option.
Make sure to check into the blog post I mention and review the graphics and charts as they are very telling. What I’ve seen personally is that when a site owner has been hurt with a placement penalty their only recourse for immediate improvement is to move into AdWords with a fairly large click budget while they make a significant effort to remediate the problem. However; it is clear that a business may not always fully recover what it has lost, one, when it comes to trust with Google and two, when it comes to Google driven traffic.